New tricks and old dogs
The third episode of the CNBC television series “The Business of Innovation” is devoted to understanding people’s needs.

How can companies with successful businesses convince their customers that change is needed? How do you take old companies, products, processes or systems and make new uses/markets/industries for them?

“It’s not that customers don’t know what they want. It’s rather they don’t say what they want,” says Vikrum Akula, CEO & Founder of SKS Microfinance.

“User innovation has always been around,” says Eric Von Hippel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, author of Democratizing Innovation (MIT Press). “The difference is that people can no longer deny that it is happening.” Indeed, it is “very likely that the majority of innovation happens this way,” says Mr. Von Hippel. Such innovation, he says, has a “much higher rate of success”.

Episode 3 examines how successful companies use their customers to innovate. Our expert panel offers ways in which customers can be used as a resource as well as methods useful in bringing reluctant customers into the innovation process. (Not to mention ways new customers might be discovered who might want your innovation.)

Featured guests are Meg Whitman, CEO of Ebay, Tom Freston, former president of Viacom, Vikrum Akula, CEO and founder of SKS Microfinance; and Richard Posey, CEO of Moen.

Watch programme